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Charlotte Amalie
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Energy Office Shifts Focus to Government Savings

Aug. 31, 2008 — Scratch the grant programs for solar outdoor lighting, energy education outreach and energy-efficient building retrofits from the V.I. Energy Office. Funding for the office is down, and it is shifting its people power to help the local government cut its energy bill.
However, education mini-grants will continue and the rebate program for energy-efficient appliances and alternative energy products will resume in October.
The education mini-grants run $1,500 each. Energy Office spokesman Don Buchanan said the office hopes to distribute eight grants in the 2008-2009 school calendar year, but said that usually not enough people apply for the grants to help educate students about energy.
"We encourage school administrators, teachers, and youth organization leaders, to submit applications," Energy Operations Coordinator Joseph Daniel said in a press release Thursday.
Before the fiscal year that just ended, the energy rebate program disbursed about $250,000 a year, but the total hit $500,000 this past year, Buchanan said.
The Energy Office hopes to help the local government reduce its energy consumption by 5 percent in the next year.
"That's $1.25 million a year," Buchanan said.
Between December 2006 and December 2007, the government spent $12.6 million on electric bills for its facilities on St. Croix and $11.8 million for St. Thomas/St. John facilities. Water bills on St. Croix ran $3.4 million and on St. Thomas/St. John, $3.3 million.
A mandate approved by the Legislature calls for reducing the government's power consumption by 20 percent in the next four years.
In the first year, Buchanan said the Energy Office will recommend that the government install reflective solar window tinting, replacing incandescent light bulbs with compact fluorescents, install motion sensor light fixtures, replace exit signs with ones that use low-energy LED lights, install aerators on water faucets to reduce water usage, repair sink and toilet faucets to save water, place timers on electric hot water heaters, and when appliances break, replace them with Energy Star appliances.
The government should also look at the cost of fuel and how much the vehicle gets per gallon to determine how much it will cost to operate the vehicle over its expected life span, what Buchanan called "life-cycle cost acquisition policies for vehicles."
Other energy reducing programs are planned in subsequent years. They include more solar projects and using LED lights at traffic signals, street lights and security lights.
Applications for the education mini-grants may be picked up at Energy Offices on St. Croix at 45 Estate Mars Hill or on St. Thomas at the Cyril E. King Airport.
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